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UL remembers author, Ernest Gaines during memorial service

1 month 2 days 20 hours ago Tuesday, November 12 2019 Nov 12, 2019 November 12, 2019 5:34 AM November 12, 2019 in News
Source: The Advocate
Ernest Gaines, 1985 Photo: The Acadiana Advocate

LAFAYETTE - Friends and associates of acclaimed author, Ernest Gaines gathered at The University of Lafayette on Monday afternoon to commemorate his life and literary contributions.

The Advocate reports that one of the beloved Louisiana-based author’s colleagues, Marcia Gaudet, spoke about him during the service.

Gaudet, former director of the Ernest J. Gaines Center in the UL library, shared a piece of advice Gaines once offered a well-known writer, saying, “He said to him, ‘Write what’s true, not what’s pretty.’ And I think, especially at this time when we’re writing about Ernest Gaines as a friend and author and man, we can write what’s completely true, and it will be incredibly beautiful.”

Gaines published his first short story in 1956 and during an interview, explained that only when he wrote about Louisiana was he truly able to find his voice as a writer.  

The Louisiana-native also said that as a reader, he searched for books ‘about himself,’ meaning he wanted to read about characters who lived in the South or worked in the fields as he had as a child. Gaines recalled finding what he was looking for among 19th century Russian and French writers.

Eventually, Gaines became well-known for his books, “A Lesson Before Dying” and “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” which was made into a movie.  

The internationally beloved author was born on a Pointee Coupee plantation in 1933 and died in his home, Nov. 5. He’d been a writer-in-residence at UL from 1981 until his retirement in 2004.

Gaines once said, “Whether you live two months or whether you live forty years, you have a certain responsibility to yourself and to others around you.”

Those who honored Gaines during the memorial service at UL seemed to agree that he carried out this responsibility by sharing his perspective with a refreshingly honest literary voice that touched readers of all backgrounds.

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